Mandatory measles vaccinations in New York City– anti-vaccine lies begin

Mandatory measles vaccination

Unless you’ve been living under that metaphorical rock, you probably know that officials in New York City have ordered mandatory measles vaccinations to stem a large outbreak of the dangerous disease. Within nanoseconds of that announcement, the anti-vaccine hate brigade began with their usual list of crackpot misinformation and pseudoscience

Given how much the anti-vaccine religion abuses social media to push their lies and deception, this article will refute some of the most egregious false claims. Of course, most anti-vaxxers won’t read this, but let’s hope that someone reading the false narratives about New York City’s mandatory measles vaccinations will come here to find evidence-based facts. 

Before I begin, the order from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene was mostly in response to an outbreak among ultra-Orthodox Jews in the borough of Brooklyn. It is probably the largest vaccination order in the United States since the 1980s.

As of 9 April 2019, approximately 285 people have contracted the disease in New York City since September, mostly in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood, which has a large number of ultra-Orthodox Jews. New York City public health officials said that of the 285 individuals, 246 were children. Furthermore, 21 of those children have been hospitalized, five in an intensive care unit. Yes, measles is dangerous, and children will be hospitalized.

So, let’s get to those mandatory measles vaccinations tropes. Continue reading “Mandatory measles vaccinations in New York City– anti-vaccine lies begin”

Measles complications – why the MMR vaccine is so important to children

Despite the claims of the anti-vaccine religion about the risks, serious measles complications should an important consideration for any parent on the fence about giving their child the MMR vaccine. This isn’t some exaggeration to compel people to get vaccines – it’s a demonstrable fact.

Unless you’ve completely ignored the news, you can’t help reading about large measles outbreaks across the world – Europe, Oregon, many areas of the USA, and elsewhere. Though the outbreaks aren’t large, thanks to a high vaccination rate in the USA against the measles by responsible and informed parents, there are a number of cities and counties in the country that have vaccination uptake that is too low for the herd effect.

Despite the anti-vaccine tropes and lies about measles complications, it’s actually a serious disease with serious deleterious effects. It shouldn’t be dismissed with a wave of the hand. Continue reading “Measles complications – why the MMR vaccine is so important to children”

Measles causes SSPE – child pays price for anti-vaccine misinformation

On 7 March 2015, a four-year-old Italian girl dubbed “Clara” by the media (real name hidden to protect her privacy) died from subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE), a complication of measles, after prolonged suffering (the girl was in the hospital in which she died for over 4 months, and has been sick at least since last October, and hospitalized elsewhere). Continue reading “Measles causes SSPE – child pays price for anti-vaccine misinformation”

SSPE – a dangerous complication from not getting the measles vaccine

One of the tropes of the anti-vaccine religion is that childhood diseases, like measles or whooping cough, are not dangerous. But real science tells us that measles complications, like SSPE (subacute sclerosing panencephalitis) and death, are not innocuous. The ignorance about measles puts our children at risk.

Sadly, some of these vaccine-denying parents have set up “pox parties” to deliberately expose their children to these diseases, because they believe that natural immunity is better than vaccine-induced immunity. Not only is that an appeal to nature fallacy, but it shows ignorance on how immunity works.  Continue reading “SSPE – a dangerous complication from not getting the measles vaccine”

Dr. Robert Sears vaccine info misleads parents about measles

This article is by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy and the law. 

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease.

Today, on Friday, January 16, 2015, Dr. Robert (Bob) Sears, a California pediatrician and author of a controversial book on vaccines (critiqued here, pdf, or here by the fine folks at Science Based Medicine) wrote in his Dr. Bob’s Daily and published on his Facebook page that measles is only rarely fatal in developed countries and that serious complications are rare. (In the likely event that Dr. Sears decides to delete his misleading comments, it’s archived here permanently.)

Dr. Sears’s comments were false. And they were irresponsible. In a way that can put people – including children, including his patients – at serious risk. This is not the first time Dr. Bob Sears has made inaccurate claims about a vaccine preventable disease, but on the background of the current measles outbreaks, the risk from his behavior is more imminent and more obvious. It is appropriate to react. Continue reading “Dr. Robert Sears vaccine info misleads parents about measles”

Legal liability of antivaccination parents whose children infect others

One of my favorite TV programs is Law & Order:SVU, an American police procedural crime drama television series set in New York City. It usually bases episodes on real news stories, but putting some twist on them. And for fans of the show, it is addicting.

In the spring of 2009, an episode entitled Selfish aired. The plot was about an immature, irresponsible young mother who was assumed to have killed her child. In a major plot twist (and actually one that caught me by surprise), the coroner determines that the child died from measles, in what turned out to be an outbreak of the disease in fictional New York City.  The Assistant District Attorney then decides to prosecute the mother of the child who started the measles outbreak because she had refused to immunize her child for all of the reasons popularized by the vaccine deniers. Unfortunately, the producers of the show didn’t give us the full satisfaction of having that mother spend time in prison (and if one looked at the episode with even amateur legal eyes, it probably wasn’t going to happen). 

But the episode is popular with many of us on the pro-science side, and I have tweeted when the episode is on a rerun somewhere. Continue reading “Legal liability of antivaccination parents whose children infect others”

Consequences of not vaccinating–Report 3

Vaccines already savedIf you don’t follow the news out of Wales on a regular basis, then you might not know that that there is an epidemic of measles in that part of the UK. According to Public Health-Wales, there have been 886 cases of measles from 1 November 2012 through 22 April 2013. This compares to around 0-3 cases per year in the late 90’s and early 00’s. The numbers have slowly risen to peak at 159 cases in 2009. The slow increase in number of measles cases correlates with the drop in MMR vaccine uptake to around 89% by age 5, far below the 95% level that Public Health-Wales has established for MMR vaccinations.

Measles (also called rubeola, not to be confused with rubella, or German measles) is a respiratory disease caused by the measles virus. Measles virus normally grows in the cells that line the back of the throat and lungs. Measles is spread through respiration (contact with fluids from an infected person’s nose and mouth, either directly or through aerosol transmission), and is highly contagious—90% of people without immunity sharing living space with an infected person will catch it. There is no specific treatment for the disease. Continue reading “Consequences of not vaccinating–Report 3”

Measles complications–consequences of the anti-vaccine hysteria

Angelina at five, just before onset of SSPE

This article has been substantially updated, please go there. There is also another article about a separate measles/SSPE case in Italy.

One of the memes of the vaccine denialists is that childhood diseases, like measles or whooping cough, are not dangerous. In fact, some parents have set up “pox parties” to deliberately expose their children to these diseases, because anti-vaccine lunatics believe (with all evidence against their beliefs, typical of any science denialist) that natural immunity is better than a vaccine induced immunity. Not only is that an Appeal to Nature fallacy, but it shows ignorance on how immunity occurs.

Already this year, two children have died in the United States as a result of whooping cough. And there’s probably more, because of under-reporting.

Continue reading “Measles complications–consequences of the anti-vaccine hysteria”